In October, we held a full Branch meeting over Microsoft Teams. Members all agreed that personal contact is essential to keep the Branch, and the Association, functioning, but Teams does at least allow us to see and hear one another, and we are getting used to it far more now. During discussions, we decided that the theme of our meetings should be Caring and Sharing because we all need to look after ourselves and each other.
We have a number of potential new members but it will be difficult for them to experience what we are really about: in particular because the loss of the Forum and all our socials this year has made it difficult to show what a great benefit membership of the HCA is.
The main conversation was about planning for Christmas. Some Trusts are trying to have as normal a Christmas service as possible under restrictions, others are looking for a cold meal in a takeaway box. Some will be offering a turkey dinner in the restaurants, others not.
All our hospitals are preparing for Natasha’s Law and introducing new labelling systems. However, a particular worry is the food that is brought onto sites for charity purposes, such as cakes for the Macmillan coffee morning. Despite caterers providing advice regarding the legal requirements for allergen declaration, this is often seen as them being against the event. Many sites have coffee shops run by outside contractors, and their staff training is not always to the standard of hospital staff.
In other news:
- Nicola Strawther reported that the Taste Testing Panels for new items for the patient menu have had to be discontinued at Nottingham University Teaching Hospitals, but ward trials are ongoing for the ordering of snacks.
- Joanne Ward, from Bidfood, told members that there was a new range of wrapped food available, which includes items suitable for vegetarian, vegan and caribbean tastes. And for those members looking to send staff meals to wards in takeaway boxes, Bidfood has a range of upmarket quality boxes available.
- James Ross reported that the merger between M&J Seafood, Freshfayre and Fresh Direct has been delayed slightly, but should be completed by the time you read this. All items from the product ranges will be delivered from one warehouse and there will only be one invoice and one customer account to set up.
- Ian King, from Major Stocks, informed members that the company was now looking to develop bases for instant sauces and custard for ward use, and would like to talk to members regarding their requirements in this area.
- Helen Butcher reported that the new waste disposal machine was in place at Bassetlaw Hospital and was working well. Bacterial testing was being undertaken on the processed waste, and if these were successful, the waste will be sold as fertiliser.
With so much COVID-19 doom and gloom about, it is refreshing to be able to report two success stories from members.
Euan Hunter reported that Parry Catering Equipment had been working flat out throughout the lockdown, supplying orders for its portable handwash station. The company has also installed a bespoke restaurant counter in a hospital in Bolton, which has allowed service stations to be separated to provide greater social distancing. The company has also designed and built bespoke beverage carts for Northampton Hospitals.
Lynn Johnson, from Johnson Catering Equipment, told members that as a result of the huge success of her range of takeaway boxes, it has been possible to get them manufactured locally in Sandiacre, less than 10 miles away, rather than in China as previously.
Finally, all of us in Trent Branch would like to wish all readers a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.